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Thread: Lets talk about water quality and waterchanges!

  1. #16
    Registered Member zhuls1's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lets talk about water quality and waterchanges!

    Quote Originally Posted by Megalodon View Post
    Strange, when I enter "dissolved organic carbon toxicity fish" into Google Scholar all I get are studies on how DOCs actually have a protective effect against toxins.
    Search dissolved organics fish growth

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    Moderator Team Adam S's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lets talk about water quality and waterchanges!

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie View Post
    Not a chemistry issue at all. Nor dissolved oxygen.

    At very low pH's in the Amazon, there's also very low bacterial activity. In fact, there's virtually no bacterial population below pH 4.5. (I used to teach this in General Microbiology Lab.) Despite the turbidity of their natural environment, discus evolved in a near sterile environment. Hence, it had to evolve a system to feed their fry. Otherwise, there wouldn't be anything to eat. Other South Americans have slime coat, albeit at much lower levels than discus. So discus cannot tolerate bioload. It's possible, but extremely difficult, to maintain such conditions in your tank. The point of water changes, which includes overall tank sanitation, is to reduce the bioload in the water. All the fancy filters in the world will not affect bacterial count. Filters, in fact, work by supporting bacterial populations via nitrification and other oxidation processes.

    Willie
    Agreed, but how does excess bioload stunt growth? Stealing oxygen, compromising the immune system, something is happening. Even fish that can survive high bacterial densities like mollies will grow much larger if given clean water. It's kind of an open question at this point, but it's insightful hearing theories as to what's going on.

    Quote Originally Posted by zhuls1 View Post
    what I was saying is if you do daily waterchanges than it would be better to leave it in the main aquarium to be syphoned off, but if you do not do regular waterchanges to syphon out the waste, than filter socks may be a way of removing them from the aquarium. All a matter of nutrient export.
    I'm saying the opposite.

    Infrequent water changes - Leave the waste alone. It's less harmful sitting in chunks on the bottom than small bits blowing around, even if the sock removes part of it.

    Just opinions though, and we both have our reasons for having them.

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    Registered Member zhuls1's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lets talk about water quality and waterchanges!

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam S View Post
    I'm saying the opposite.

    Infrequent water changes - Leave the waste alone. It's less harmful sitting in chunks on the bottom than small bits blowing around, even if the sock removes part of it.

    Just opinions though, and we both have our reasons for having them.
    The problem is if you do infrequent water change it will break down in your aquarium and than you will have lots of small bits floating around, which is why its important to remove waste from the tank as soon as possible. If you are changing your filter socks daily, you are preventing from breaking down in the first place. this is why when people who do like a water change a month change the filter socks daily often see reductions of over 50% nitrate levels. As i said all about nutrient export. Removing waste BEFORE it breaks down.

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    Registered Member zhuls1's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lets talk about water quality and waterchanges!

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie View Post
    Not a chemistry issue at all. Nor dissolved oxygen.

    At very low pH's in the Amazon, there's also very low bacterial activity. In fact, there's virtually no bacterial population below pH 4.5. (I used to teach this in General Microbiology Lab.) Despite the turbidity of their natural environment, discus evolved in a near sterile environment. Hence, it had to evolve a system to feed their fry. Otherwise, there wouldn't be anything to eat. Other South Americans have slime coat, albeit at much lower levels than discus. So discus cannot tolerate bioload. It's possible, but extremely difficult, to maintain such conditions in your tank. The point of water changes, which includes overall tank sanitation, is to reduce the bioload in the water. All the fancy filters in the world will not affect bacterial count. Filters, in fact, work by supporting bacterial populations via nitrification and other oxidation processes.

    Willie
    Hey Willie, I'm afraid that whilst you are correct in saying that at a low PH inhibits bacteria, bacteria does not effect the growth rates of fish. This idea is purely folklore based on speculation, there is no science behind it whatsoever. You said that discus "cannot tolerate bioload", Bioload? As in, dissolved organics right. Also you say "All the fancy filters in the world will not affect bacterial count" this is not at all true. Their are many filtration methods that are effectively at drastically reducing bacteria count. For a start, bacteria feed off doc's, so by reducing doc's you make a significant impact on bacterial population. Basically, keep your tank clean, and you will have a reduced bacterial population. Their are UV sterilizers, and they are effective against some but not all bacteria. the reason for this is that some species of bacteria multiply too fast for the UV sterilizer to keep up with it. The single best method to reduce bacteria is to reduce the dissolved organic carbons. If you take away their food supply, they cant multiply anymore. Also you say that filters support bacterial populations, this is not accurate. Many actually reduce bacteria populations, such as protien skimmers. Also, the filters that do operate via nitrification grow beneficial strains of bacteria that are not waterborne and not harmful to your fish.

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    Moderator Team Adam S's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lets talk about water quality and waterchanges!

    Quote Originally Posted by zhuls1 View Post
    The problem is if you do infrequent water change it will break down in your aquarium and than you will have lots of small bits floating around, which is why its important to remove waste from the tank as soon as possible. If you are changing your filter socks daily, you are preventing from breaking down in the first place. this is why when people who do like a water change a month change the filter socks daily often see reductions of over 50% nitrate levels. As i said all about nutrient export. Removing waste BEFORE it breaks down.
    If the filtration is already blowing bits around then sure, a filter sock would be appropriate. With simple air-driven sponges, I maintain that leaving the waste on the bottom is safer. I'd much rather have elevated nitrates than abundant free floating bacteria.
    I gush about these a lot, but mattenfilters solve most problems with mechanical filtration. Virtually zero maintenance, highly effective particle trap and they develop the anoxic bacteria people seem to love nowadays.

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    Default Re: Lets talk about water quality and waterchanges!

    I have done many different types of fish. Arowana, Plecos, catfish, Wild Discus, Domestic discus...etc..etc.

    Discus is the only fish that has this attached to it, "So where is the butcher, so I can get beef heart". I have seen people buy discus and then make their way to try and find beef heart right after (which is not that easy to find). Its automatic. I am going to get shot down by some for saying it, but its true. Arowana people don't go buy beef heart, nor do people that buy large predatory fish. Who buys some pirhanna, and then says lets feed beef heart or steak! Yet discus has this beef heart thing to them, feed them allot myth to them. Discus are some of the most adaptable fish I have ever had. They eat everything. You could throw hot dogs and they would eat it I bet.

    The reason I think there is this thought you need to do allot of water changes...well, back in the day lets say in the 1970s/80s when people started creating domesticated discus and feeding beef heart..well, guess what happened? Their water got funky fast. Really fast. Especially since they were probably throwing down food 3-4 times a day. Maybe even more. These guys like Jack Wattley were the fathers of making discus a major hobby, and then this rep just kept on going and going. So the WC thing got big. I know a guy who does WC 2-3 times a day! and yet feeds BF 3-4 times a day! - there is a connection...

    But let me make this clear, if you want to feed beef heart. Cool. Its your fish to enjoy and if you don't mind doing WC, go for it. Whatever works for you.

    I have had discus for years, I do WC maybe once a week. I don't do beef heart. I usually make a seafood mix, feed that once a while...and just feed NLS bits or Tropical discus dry food. I feed 2x a day. You can even cut it down to 1x when they are larger. Its more healthy for the fish I find. Its fine, they don't die. They can go without food for weeks.

    Anyways, please don't shoot me about the BF comments.

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    Default Re: Lets talk about water quality and waterchanges!

    I change water to reduce bacteria, protozoa, and nitrate... in about that order of importance. If you gave me a magic wand that when I waved it at the tanks all the nitrate disappeared, I would be glad to have it but I would probably change the same amount of water. Although nitrate is toxic, I see it more as a useful indicator of overall water quality than as a distinct toxin.

    I don't think bacteria have to be directly pathogenic or infectious to be harmful. My sense is that the immune system is harassed by bacteria that fish like discus have not been exposed to in their evolutionary history, and over time heavy bacterial loads break down their health. The only bacteria I want in the tank are the aerobic nitrifiers in the biofilter.

    The only good way I have found to do fewer water changes is to keep a very low pH (4.5 to 5.5) that inhibits harmful bacteria and protozoa. This can be more work than changing water the usual way, and it takes practice to do safely and consistently.

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    Default Re: Lets talk about water quality and waterchanges!

    Quote Originally Posted by zhuls1 View Post
    Hey Willie, I'm afraid that whilst you are correct in saying that at a low PH inhibits bacteria, bacteria does not effect the growth rates of fish. This idea is purely folklore based on speculation, there is no science behind it whatsoever.
    I believe you are wrong in this statement. I agree with what Dan says. If the bacteria affects the discus health, and I believe it does, then it does indeed have a direct impact on the growth of discus. I believe the DOC's are a problem because they create a breeding ground for bacteria which in turn affects the discus health. As Willie pointed out there is little to no bacteria in the Amazon and the discus do not have a immunity built up to them. My primary concern is with young discus growing out. I don't believe the bacteria has as much impact on adult discus but more so than with other fishes which is why Brian can get away with once a week water changes. I don't feed beef heart and don't believe it is the cause of the problem. It may dirty the water quicker but any food and waste in the water will quickly breed bacteria in the warm water we keep discus in.
    Larry Bugg

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    Atlanta Area Aquarium Association

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    Default Re: Lets talk about water quality and waterchanges!

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie View Post
    Not a chemistry issue at all. Nor dissolved oxygen.

    At very low pH's in the Amazon, there's also very low bacterial activity. In fact, there's virtually no bacterial population below pH 4.5. (I used to teach this in General Microbiology Lab.) Despite the turbidity of their natural environment, discus evolved in a near sterile environment. Hence, it had to evolve a system to feed their fry. Otherwise, there wouldn't be anything to eat. Other South Americans have slime coat, albeit at much lower levels than discus. So discus cannot tolerate bioload. It's possible, but extremely difficult, to maintain such conditions in your tank. The point of water changes, which includes overall tank sanitation, is to reduce the bioload in the water. All the fancy filters in the world will not affect bacterial count. Filters, in fact, work by supporting bacterial populations via nitrification and other oxidation processes.

    Willie
    I keep reading "discus evolved and live in a next to sterile environment, practically devoid of bacteria" but whenever I try to find a factual proof of this on any academic papers I find the exact opposite. Bacterial cell counts of the waters in the Amazon basin are just marginally below avarage and actually the count tends to be higher in the backwaters and floodplains where discus tend to live compared to the major waterways and the Amazon River proper.
    This article is quite interesting in this regard, although it analyses only the situation during the dry season when the waters are lowest.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4349158/
    If there was no bacterial activity there would be no lower rung of the food chain, so there would be no food chain. It may be argued that bacteria adapted to living at such low pH may be less likely to behave as pathogens, so it could be an issue of the quality of the bacteria and not quantity, but this is is just speculation. The fact remains that bacteria and viruses are as abundant in the natural habitat of discus as they are just about anywhere else on earth, they have managed to colonize far more extreme environments just think of black smoker vents.
    Generations of fishkeepers have proven that discus are grown more successfully with big frequent water changes, I do not know if Piwo uses his "recycled" water just for breeding pairs or if he also uses it in the grow-out tanks - but his purification system is beyond the means of the avarage hobbyist.
    Over here in Italy a lot of people keep their discus in very soft (KH close to 0) and acidic conditions (friend of mine currently has a pH in the tank of 3.8!), with next to no nitrates and change very little water - but their fish generally grow up stunted!
    I would really welcome a means of removing whatever pesky substance hinders the growth of discus so I would not have to change 2/3 of the water every day for God knows howmany more months.
    Last edited by Paul Sabucchi; 06-13-2018 at 05:17 PM.

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    Default Re: Lets talk about water quality and waterchanges!

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam S View Post
    If the filtration is already blowing bits around then sure, a filter sock would be appropriate. With simple air-driven sponges, I maintain that leaving the waste on the bottom is safer. I'd much rather have elevated nitrates than abundant free floating bacteria.
    I gush about these a lot, but mattenfilters solve most problems with mechanical filtration. Virtually zero maintenance, highly effective particle trap and they develop the anoxic bacteria people seem to love nowadays.
    If you have elevated nitrates thats a sign that your waste is breaking down, in which case, bacteria will multiply.

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    Default Re: Lets talk about water quality and waterchanges!

    Quote Originally Posted by brianyam1 View Post
    I have done many different types of fish. Arowana, Plecos, catfish, Wild Discus, Domestic discus...etc..etc.

    Discus is the only fish that has this attached to it, "So where is the butcher, so I can get beef heart". I have seen people buy discus and then make their way to try and find beef heart right after (which is not that easy to find). Its automatic. I am going to get shot down by some for saying it, but its true. Arowana people don't go buy beef heart, nor do people that buy large predatory fish. Who buys some pirhanna, and then says lets feed beef heart or steak! Yet discus has this beef heart thing to them, feed them allot myth to them. Discus are some of the most adaptable fish I have ever had. They eat everything. You could throw hot dogs and they would eat it I bet.

    The reason I think there is this thought you need to do allot of water changes...well, back in the day lets say in the 1970s/80s when people started creating domesticated discus and feeding beef heart..well, guess what happened? Their water got funky fast. Really fast. Especially since they were probably throwing down food 3-4 times a day. Maybe even more. These guys like Jack Wattley were the fathers of making discus a major hobby, and then this rep just kept on going and going. So the WC thing got big. I know a guy who does WC 2-3 times a day! and yet feeds BF 3-4 times a day! - there is a connection...

    But let me make this clear, if you want to feed beef heart. Cool. Its your fish to enjoy and if you don't mind doing WC, go for it. Whatever works for you.

    I have had discus for years, I do WC maybe once a week. I don't do beef heart. I usually make a seafood mix, feed that once a while...and just feed NLS bits or Tropical discus dry food. I feed 2x a day. You can even cut it down to 1x when they are larger. Its more healthy for the fish I find. Its fine, they don't die. They can go without food for weeks.

    Anyways, please don't shoot me about the BF comments.
    Hey Brian, I personally don't agree with feeding juvies only 2 times a day, but I definitely do think beefheart as being over rated. The reality is it is just a cheap source of protein which is why breeders use it, and it has caught on with the majority. What most people don't realise is there are countless different types of proteins. Whilst beef heart may have a higher protein content than sea food, the protein in it is less digestible for your discus. Beefheart tends to just foul the water, a good sea food mix is better imo than beefheart. But in saying that its also a question of how economically feasible feeding seafood is. However, you also have to consider that since it can be "cleaner" you can get away with fewer waterchanges, saving money on water and electricity.

  12. #27
    Registered Member zhuls1's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lets talk about water quality and waterchanges!

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Sabucchi View Post
    I keep reading "discus evolved and live in a next to sterile environment, practically devoid of bacteria" but whenever I try to find a factual proof of this on any academic papers I find the exact opposite. Bacterial cell counts of the waters in the Amazon basin are just marginally below avarage and actually the count tends to be higher in the backwaters and floodplains where discus tend to live compared to the major waterways and the Amazon River proper.
    This article is quite interesting in this regard, although it analyses only the situation during the dry season when the waters are lowest.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4349158/
    If there was no bacterial activity there would be no lower rung of the food chain, so there would be no food chain. It may be argued that bacteria adapted to living at such low pH may be less likely to behave as pathogens, so it could be an issue of the quality of the bacteria and not quantity, but this is is just speculation. The fact remains that bacteria and viruses are as abundant in the natural habitat of discus as they are just about anywhere else on earth, they have managed to colonize far more extreme environments just think of black smoker vents.
    Generations of fishkeepers have proven that discus are grown more successfully with big frequent water changes, I do not know if Piwo uses his "recycled" water just for breeding pairs or if he also uses it in the grow-out tanks - but his purification system is beyond the means of the avarage hobbyist.
    Over here in Italy a lot of people keep their discus in very soft (KH close to 0) and acidic conditions (friend of mine currently has a pH in the tank of 3.8!), with next to no nitrates and change very little water - but their fish generally grow up stunted!
    I would really welcome a means of removing whatever pesky substance hinders the growth of discus so I would not have to change 2/3 of the water every day for God knows howmany more months.
    Piwo's system was used on the grow out, however it is probably not economically worth it for a hobbyist. Even he found it to costly so switched back to water changes. And this is exactly what I mean, at a ph of 3.8, bacterial counts would be incredibly low, yet people keeping discus at this low of level have no less problems with stunted discus than people keeping at elevated levels.

  13. #28
    Registered Member zhuls1's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lets talk about water quality and waterchanges!

    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Bugg View Post
    I believe you are wrong in this statement. I agree with what Dan says. If the bacteria affects the discus health, and I believe it does, then it does indeed have a direct impact on the growth of discus. I believe the DOC's are a problem because they create a breeding ground for bacteria which in turn affects the discus health. As Willie pointed out there is little to no bacteria in the Amazon and the discus do not have a immunity built up to them. My primary concern is with young discus growing out. I don't believe the bacteria has as much impact on adult discus but more so than with other fishes which is why Brian can get away with once a week water changes. I don't feed beef heart and don't believe it is the cause of the problem. It may dirty the water quicker but any food and waste in the water will quickly breed bacteria in the warm water we keep discus in.
    Most living organisms have some sort of defence against bacteria. We, for example, among other things, have our skin. This acts like a physical barrier between the vital organs inside and the nasty bacteria outside of the body. Fish are very adaptable and also have defences against bacteria. We are unlikely to get a bacterial infection unless our defences against bacteria are somehow compromised, for example if we cut ourselves. The same goes for discus, bacteria shouldn't be a problem unless their defense systems are compromised. This could be from a cut, or a parasitic infection. Most bacterial infections are secondary to parasitic infections. Their have been plenty of hobbyists who have tried raising discus in very low PH levels where you would expect to see very low bacterial count, and yet many of them still seem to fail. Correct me if i'm wrong, but I don't think their has ever been a study conducted the has shown bacteria in the water column to directly cause a reduction in fish growth.

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    Default Re: Lets talk about water quality and waterchanges!

    Yes, smaller Discus I feed around 3x a day. Its more than enough. I have about 13 small Stenkler discus now, and they do fine 3x a day on a NLS pellet or Tropical Discus bits. Once a while I give them a seafood mix. My larger wilds I feed 1-2x a day seafood mix, NLS, and the Tropical discus bits. They also get allot of food from the leftover insects/food I feed the larger fish in the tank.

    I actually find making a seafood mix is way cheaper than even dried or BF. Simply because it is so easy to find and prepare. You can get great stuff from your local fish monger who can't sell those parts to customers, or even Costco has great cheap frozen seafood. I have been using a mix of Balsa fillets and pink salomon ( as I find salmon can get a bit oily) from Costco mixed in with some other stuff like shrimp, banana, orange..etc. Tons of stuff at your local Asian supermarket, from frozen smelts..etc..etc. It is actually fun to try new things.

    But like I said, fish are fine if you feed less. There is this "need" to constantly feed sometimes and you got to remember these fish are not using nearly close to the energy they would in the wild. I have left town for trips for weeks and fish are fine. Actually healthy once a while for the fish to fast.

    The over feeding and heavy on BF is a major factor in the bio load of discus tanks, hence causing the need to WC.


    Quote Originally Posted by zhuls1 View Post
    Hey Brian, I personally don't agree with feeding juvies only 2 times a day, but I definitely do think beefheart as being over rated. The reality is it is just a cheap source of protein which is why breeders use it, and it has caught on with the majority. What most people don't realise is there are countless different types of proteins. Whilst beef heart may have a higher protein content than sea food, the protein in it is less digestible for your discus. Beefheart tends to just foul the water, a good sea food mix is better imo than beefheart. But in saying that its also a question of how economically feasible feeding seafood is. However, you also have to consider that since it can be "cleaner" you can get away with fewer waterchanges, saving money on water and electricity.

  15. #30
    Silver Member Willie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lets talk about water quality and waterchanges!

    Okay, let's talk science.

    1. Bioload refers to the amount of bacteria and other microorganisms in the water. Of course fish that evolve in near sterile water will be compromised by high bacterial populations.
    2. What is a dissolved organic? These are typically organic acids, e.g. citrate, iso-citrate, malate, succinate, etc., which serve as carbon substrates for bacterial growth. Dissolved organics are not a problem, because they lead to a bacterial population growth which consumes them.
    3. Filtration systems are not at all effective at reducing bacterial count unless yours have physical pores which are < 1 micron, the size of bacteria. There are no aquarium filtration systems that can do this other than the old fashioned diatomaceous earth filters.
    4. UV sterilizers cause dimerization of DNA, which blocks strand replication. As long as the glass tubes are kept clean, any life form containing DNA or RNA will be blocked. So they are effective against all bacteria.
    5. Protein skimmers work by physically removing dissolve protein via bubble formation. They have no impact on bacterial load.
    6. Nitrification is NO2 -> NO3, which is part of the nitrogen cycle. You probably mean denitrification, which is NO3 -> N2. Lots of folklore about that, but denitrification is an anaerobic process - so cannot occur when oxygen is present. Lots of nonsense on Youtube about setting about denitrification filters with no scientific rigor.

    Willie
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